Before the game even tipped off, the life was sucked out of Sleep Train Arena. Rudy Gay, who was expected to make his Sacramento Kings debut against the Utah Jazz, would not be playing. The result? A 122-101 loss to the Jazz in a lethargic outing by the 10 players Kings head coach Michael Malone had at his disposal.
“I think it’s a sign of us being a very young team,” Malone said after the loss. “You come off of a very impressive win against Dallas, probably our best game of the season for 48 minutes against a good team… And I thought from the jump ball tonight, the effort, the energy (wasn’t there). We were very, very flat.”
From the jump of Wednesday’s game, Sacramento was unable to impose their will on Utah. Instead, the Jazz limited the Kings’ fast break attack, forcing Sacramento to play mostly in the half-court. The results weren’t pretty as the Kings totaled just 13 assists to 12 turnovers in Wednesday’s loss.
“We didn’t make shots,” Kings forward Derrick Williams said postgame of the lack of ball movement. “You’re not going to get assists if you don’t make shots. Sometimes, that’s just how it is. Like I said, there’s no excuses. We just got outplayed.”
Frustration for the Kings reached a boiling point in the second half. Isaiah Thomas, DeMarcus Cousins and even coach Malone picked up technicals in the two periods after intermission.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” Cousins said after the game when asked how disappointing Wednesday’s loss was. “You take steps forward (in) the game before against Dallas and we come back tonight and look like a totally different team from the previous night. It’s starting to get old, (making the) same mistakes over and over.
“I got a damn tech tonight,” he added. “I should’ve kept my cool. I believe it was a terrible team effort all around from the players, so we can’t continue to come out every night and make these same mistakes. It’s old.”
The Kings starters were unable to duplicate their dominant performance from Monday’s blowout of the Dallas Mavericks. Thomas scored 21 points and dished out seven assists, but committed five turnovers in the process. Cousins, meanwhile, finished with a respectable 21 points and 11 rebounds, but the technical he earned in the game was his sixth of the season.
Like the Kings, the Jazz looked much different in tonight’s game compared to Saturday’s outing in Salt Lake City. Derrick Favors was back in Utah’s lineup after missing the last two games and finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Marvin Williams also returned to their rotation and finished with eight points, five assists and two steals.
Gay along with teammates Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray were held out of Wednesday’s game because former Kings guard Greivis Vasquez had not yet been medically cleared by the Toronto Raptors. Vasquez arrived in Toronto late this evening after spending the day in New York City getting his work visa from the Canadian Consulate.
Wednesday’s loss snaps a two-game winning streak for the Kings. They fall to 6-13 overall and 4-9 at home. They hit the road Friday, where they’ll expect to have Gay make his debut, against the Phoenix Suns.
Notes and Analysis
- Isaiah Thomas led the short-handed Kings with 20 points and five assists on the night. In his first two games as a starter, he is averaging 22 points and 9.5 assists.
- When DeMarcus Cousins wasn’t sitting on the bench in foul trouble, he was dominating in the paint. The Kings starting center finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds in 23 minutes. His six technical fouls this season leads the league.
- Derrick Williams continued his strong play as a member of the Kings, scoring 13 points on 6-for-11 shooting and grabbing seven rebounds in his 32 minutes. Malone will have a decision to make with his starting lineup come Friday and my guess is that Williams has done enough to stick as a starter.
- Marcus Thornton played very well, especially on the defensive end. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Thornton this feisty. The veteran shooting guard finished with 11 points and four rebounds in 34 minutes.
- There was a Jimmer Fredette sighting ladies and gentleman. The third-year guard scored 13 points on 4-for-6 shooting and grabbed two rebounds in 11 minutes. He has earned another game as the backup point guard position.
- Jason Thompson scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds in 34 minutes. He also did a nice job of hanging with small-forward-turned-stretch-four Marvin Williams and he surprisingly hit all five of his free throw attempts. With Hayes and Patterson on their way to Toronto, Malone is going to need Thompson to log a bunch of minutes at the four and five going forward.
- Sacramento’s defense was atrocious tonight. They allowed Utah to shoot 53.9 percent from the field and 56.5 percent from 3-point range on their way to 122 points. This was about as ugly as it gets.
- Stat of the Night: Utah finished the game with a season-high 35 assists to just 13 for the Kings. That is the reason they also set season-highs in points (122) and margin of victory (21). They also never trailed the Kings, leading by as many as 28 points this evening.
Quote of the Game
Malone on the pace of the game:
“We ran against Dallas. We held them to 39 percent . If a team shoots 56 percent then you’re not going to get out and run. I wouldn’t say we didn’t run tonight because of energy and effort. We didn’t run tonight because we couldn’t guard anybody. If you’re constantly allowing teams to put up 30-point quarters and shoot well over 55% from the field and the three, then you’re going to have to walk it up and play against a slow defense, which is what we did tonight.”
Video shot and edited by Tobin Halsey.